The Reverend Father Alexander Veronis, 90, longtime pastor of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Lancaster, entered eternal life on June 26, 2023 exactly the way he had hoped – with his beloved wife of 64 years by his side.
Fr. Veronis’s legacy is primarily one of love, faith and service. He tried to see Jesus in every person, was a champion of the underdog, and a strong advocate for the oppressed and the forsaken. He lived by the belief that a rich man is not one who has much, but one who needs little and shares his blessings generously with others. He taught and encouraged his parishioners to use their talents, time and money to promote the faith and to help those in need. He was a father and mentor to all of the people he served and loved.
Fr. Veronis considered it a privilege to be able to share in the joys and sorrows of his beloved parishioners. He relished visiting their homes, sharing in their lives, baptizing and marrying their children, and burying their loved ones. He had a strong affinity for the youth and he and his wife, Pearl, helped to establish the vibrant Metropolis of Pittsburgh Camp Nazareth summer camp program that has impacted generations of Orthodox Christians.
He was noted for his leadership in Orthodox Christian missions and in ecumenical relations. For 43 years, he chaired the Lancaster CROP WALK FOR THE HUNGRY of Church World Service (CWS), helping to raise more than $5 million dollars to alleviate hunger and poverty in Lancaster and in 80 countries worldwide. His dream was that no person would go to sleep hungry anywhere.
Another lifelong passion of Fr. Veronis was missions and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the world. He helped establish the Orthodox Christian Missions Center (OCMC), the premier Orthodox Christian mission agency in the USA, and was named as the president emeritus following his retirement.
He also helped to establish the Endowment Fund for Orthodox Missions (EFOM) which endowed the Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. A highlight of his life was making a mission trip with his wife to Kenya to build a medical clinic in 1988, joining his son, Luke, who was serving there. He never stopped marveling about the joy he experienced worshiping alongside his African brothers and sisters.
Father Veronis was born in Paterson, N.J., the son of Nicholas and Angeliki Veronis, beloved Greek immigrant parents from Crete, Greece. He was the fifth of six children. He served Annunciation Church, his first and only parish, for 62 years as Pastor and Pastor Emeritus (1961-2023).
He graduated from Lafayette College (B.A.), Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (B.D.) , Boston University School of Theology (S.T.M), and Athens University School of Theology. He received an honorary doctorate (D.D.) from Lebanon Valley College in 1992. In 2015 Boston University School of Theology recognized him as a “Distinguished Alumnus.”
Ordained to the priesthood in 1961, Father Veronis began his parish ministry at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Lancaster. Back in the 1960s, he was among the first in the Orthodox Church to establish regular Bible Studies. He was among the editorial committee to establish the first Orthodox Study Bible in 1993.
In 2008, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and his fellow priests honored his philanthropic and progressive ministry by bestowing on Fr. Veronis “The Distinguished Ministry Award” – the highest tribute given to any Greek Orthodox priest in the country.
Surviving, in addition to his beloved wife, Presbytera Pearl of 64 years, are their five children: Catherine, wife of David Garman (deceased); Nicholas, husband of Susan (Zervanos); George, husband of Christine (Reid); Rebecca (Veronis), wife of Matthew Michalopoulos; and Father Luke, husband of Presbytera Faith (Stathis). He had fourteen grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
To his final breath, Fr. Veronis gave gratitude for his wife, Pearl, his faithful companion and loyal partner in Christ. His love for her knew no bounds, and he often said that he could never have been the leader and the priest he was without her support. She was, in every sense of the word, his co-minister. Their love for each other showed their children and parishioners how joyful and fulfilling a Christ-centered marriage could be.
The family will receive visitors at the viewing on Thursday, June 29 from 3-8:00 pm, with the Trisagion Service at 6 pm, at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 64 Hershey Ave, Lancaster, PA 17603. A Divine Liturgy will be held Friday, June 30, at 9:30 am, followed by the funeral service at 11 am. Following the service will be the interment at Conestoga Memorial Park, 95 Second Lock Road, Lancaster.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Father Alexander Veronis’s memory to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s renovation of the Church Social Hall, 64 Hershey Avenue, Lancaster, PA 17603 or to The Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity at Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of Theology, 50 Goddard Avenue, Brookline, MA 02445.
The Funeral Service will be livestreamed and available on Fr. Alexander’s obituary link.